The three-man gang, also wanted internationally for previous offences, worked together at Rome's Fiumicino airport as well as in hotel receptions across the capital, Il Messagero reported.
One would throw the contents of a jar of mustard over their victim, while the accomplices would take advantage of the distraction to steal bags and other valuables.
The tried-and-tested technique is thought to have brought the gang a loot of around €70,000, in a variety of currencies, though they targeted mainly American and Russian tourists.
Dubbed by the Italian press as the 'mustard gang', the three men arrested were two Algerians, aged 37 and 38, and a man of French origin, 33.
Police were able to catch them after several weeks of investigation and with the help of CCTV footage.
This isn't the first time that thieves at the Roman airport have hit headlines for their brazenness.
In September last year two alleged thieves told police at the airport that they stole luggage from tourists in order to fund their holiday in Ibiza.
Aged 34 and 44 and originally from Algeria, the would-be tourists reportedly used a special method when carrying out the thefts which were filmed over a period of a few days by police.
According to Italian daily La Repubblica, one of the men would distract their victims by asking for information while the other would steal their suitcase – which almost always carried a designer label.